Douglass Houghton, Michigan's first State Geologists, was born in Troy, New York, on September 21, 1809. He studied under Amos Eaton at the Van Renssaeler Polytechnic School in Troy. In 1828 he graduated and became a professor of chemistry and natural history. In 1830 Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass asked Eaton to recommend a public lecturer for chemistry and geology. Eaton chose Houghton, who moved to Detroit. In 1831 he became the surgeon and botanist for Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's expedition to discover the source of the Mississippi River. During the trip, Houghton studied smallpox among the Chippewa Indians, was a correspondent for the Detroit Journal, and recorded more than two hundred plants. From 1832 to 1836 he practiced medicine in Detroit. In 1838 he became a professor at the University of Michigan.